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Ever wanted to be Darth Vader? Bring Star Wars to life with 3D Printed ‘Tractor Beam’
Star Wars fans will be really excited about the opportunity to turn a dream into reality.
Through this “tractor beam” you are able to move small objects using sound waves, in the comfort of your own home — at least if you own a 3D printer.
The research assistant Asier Marzo and his physicists team of the Bristol University released the instructions for how to create a plastic tractor-beam device in the journal Applied Physics Letters. When sound waves travel through the device — a collection of carefully calibrated tubes — they become organized in such a way as to form a true tractor beam. This acoustic beam can pull tiny objects, like beads or even small insects, toward it using only the power of sound.
Fittingly, the 3D-printed tractor beam device looks like half of the Death Star from the “Star Wars” films. A printed bowl is fitted with an array of different-sized tubes, through which sound waves travel and are directed. This “metamaterial” can hold a small fly in place, as demonstrated in the video below.
The rest of the device is made from standard electronics and open-source hardware components from the supplier Arduino.
“The components are very simple, like an Arduino board and a motor driver, and everything can be bought on Amazon for less than 50 British pounds [about $70],” Marzo said.
The team actually developed three versions of the tractor beam, each of which can manage different wavelengths of sound to trap objects of varying sizes. A few millimeters is the upper limit in size right now, even for devices used in laboratories.
May the Force be with you and good luck for your homemade tractor beam!